…THE LORD IS NEAR. DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING, BUT IN EVERYTHING, BY PRAYER AND PETITION, WITH THANKSGIVING, PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS TO GOD. AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS. (Philippians 4: 5-7)
WELCOME TO OUR SUNDAY WEB-WORSHIP.
OPENING HYMN (CH- 351): – O THOU MY SOUL, BLESS GOD THE LORD; and all that in me is. Be stirred up His Holy Name to magnify and bless.
Bless, O my soul, the Lord thy God, and not forgetful be of all His gracious benefits He hath bestowed on thee.
All thine iniquities who doth most graciously forgive: who thy diseases all and pains doth heal, and thee relieve.
Who doth redeem thy life, that thou to death mayest not go down; who thee with loving-kindness doth and tender mercies crown.
Who with abundance of good things doth satisfy thy mouth; so that, even as the eagle’s age, renewed is thy youth.
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, The God whom we adore, be glory, as it was, and is, and shall be evermore. Amen.
LET US PRAY:
FATHER GOD, You came to our world in Christ, sharing our humanity, and to teach us how to turn to You in prayer. You come to us each day through Your Holy Spirit, sharing in our every experience; so now we come to You, to share with You. We come to acknowledge Your greatness, to recognise Your goodness, and to declare Your wonderful works. We come in awe and prayer, to bring our worship, ourselves and our world before You. We come to seek Your forgiveness, to confess our many faults, and to receive Your mercy. We come seeking Your strength, Your guidance and Your will. We come to read Your Word and Your Message, and to discern Your purpose. Come afresh to us now in this time of worship – renew and refresh our prayer-life, our faith, our hope and our love. Open our eyes to Your presence, and open our lives to Your grace and power. For we ask it through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – LEVITICUS 22: 31-33.
KEEP MY COMMANDS AND FOLLOW THEM. I AM THE LORD. DO NOT PROFANE MY HOLY NAME. I MUST BE ACKNOWLEDGED AS HOLY BY THE ISRAELITES. I AM THE LORD, WHO MAKES YOU HOLY AND WHO BROUGHT YOU OUT OF EGYPT TO BE YOUR GOD. I AM THE LORD.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – MATTHEW 6: 6, 8, 9, 10.
… WHEN YOU PRAY, GO INTO YOUR ROOM, CLOSE THE DOOR AND PRAY TO YOUR FATHER, WHO IS UNSEEN…FOR YOUR FATHER KNOWS WHAT YOU NEED BEFORE YOU ASK HIM. THIS, THEN, IS HOW YOU SHOULD PRAY: OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME.
The LORD’S PRAYER is a central Christian prayer, taught by Jesus, who said : – This is how you should pray… (Matthew 6: 9), or: – When you pray, say… (Luke 11: 2). Two versions of this prayer are recorded in the gospels: a longer form within the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, and a shorter form in the Gospel of Luke (11: 1), when… one of His disciples said to Him: Lord, teach us to pray… I don’t intend comparing the two versions, but during the following weeks I would like to guide you through Matthew’ text of the Lord’s Prayer, as our prayerful Lent-preparation for Easter.
Prayer is a generally accepted religious practice. In the history of the Old Testament people, it was part of the service in the Temple, so it is understandable that certain prescriptions for prayer have developed. Gradually, prayer became a lawful, prescriptive requirement, and so started missing its real purpose. Prayer should always be the purest expression of sincere, personal communion with God, and never degraded into a competition of religious show, as the Pharisees of Jesus’ time practiced it. The foundations of prayer-life are laid in privacy; as Jesus said: – Go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father. True faithful prayer is always a personal relationship before it becomes a collective responsibility: first alone with God, and then together with other people. In the New Testament Church the idea of fasting during Lent was to make time to seek the Lord by means of Bible-study and prayer. Sincere fasting could still play an important role in Christian faith, if correlated with prayer and Bible-reading. Remembering Jesus’ fasting in the desert we must see that prayer played a decisive role in His life, giving a positive new perspective to the existing practice. He gives prayer a new meaning; that is why it is so important that we do not see this as a model prayer or just another prayer formula. Within The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is not saying that this should be the verbal content of our prayer. He indicates what the BASIC CONTENT of our prayer should be. HIS WORDS SHOULD CARRY AND FEED OUR WORDS, whenever we pray.
The words used by Jesus to address God are revolutionary. The God of the Covenant was seldom referred to as a FATHER – the term Father occurs only fifteen times in the Old Testament, and not once as a form of address. To be able to address the HOLY GOD as OUR FATHER, is possible only through Jesus Christ. It is also important to note that the Aramaic word that Jesus uses for Father is a very special word. ABBA was a more intimate form such as Daddy or Dad would be today – depending on the emotive value we attach to the word. What was new, was that one could address God in this way. JESUS WAS PRESENTING GOD AS A COMPASSIONATE FATHER WHO CARES FOR HIS CHILDREN. We have to remind ourselves who God is when we approach Him with our requests, so that we ask in faith (Ephesians 3: 20). All the elements of true prayer are found in this prayer that Jesus gave us as a model for our own prayers. Prayer has three forms: – Adoration, worship, communion. We can praise God for what He is and for what He has done. We can pray to Him anytime we need or want to – as we go about our duties, eat our meals, drive our cars, or whatever we are doing (1 Thessalonians 5: 17). – Petition. We have to receive from God ourselves before we can give to others. He wants us to bring our needs to Him. – Intercession. We usually begin to pray for loved ones after ourselves and then move to the people further from us. We can touch the world for God through prayer.
THE HEAVENLY FATHER. The children of God’s Kingdom have a Father – a Heavenly Father. The word Heaven shows that this Father is someone set apart. He is removed from us into HIS HOLINESS and GLORY, far above man, and we therefore look up to Him in awe. He is worthy of all our respect. At the same time, He draws us close to Himself in His incomprehensible Fatherly love. God, our Father. First and foremost, He is OUR FATHER. Disciples are members of a special family, THE FAMILY OF GOD. They are children of a Heavenly Father who also has other children. They have – God knows – how many sisters and brothers. When a disciple speaks to his Father, he speaks as a member of the Family of God, never as for himself only. Because of our frail human nature, we cannot help petitioning God for our own desires, but only when we recognise Him as the loving Father of us all. Then, His Spirit inspires us to think also of the needs of our sisters and brothers. WE MUST NEVER LEAVE OUR SISTERS AND BROTHERS OUT OF OUR PRAYERS. Many people think that the purpose of prayer is to get our will done and to persuade God to give US what we want. The true purpose of prayer is to get OUR HEAVENLY FATHER’S WILL DONE when we ask according to His will, and never forgetting about the needs of others (1 John 5: 14). When we pray we are coming into the presence of the CREATOR AND SUSTAINER OF THE UNIVERSE. We should be conscious of HIS POWER to believe everything we might ask. Faith is vital for the effectiveness of our prayer. We don’t need to pray with closed eyes, folded hands, or kneeling down. Prayer is not about the position of the body, but rather the MOOD OF OUR SOUL towards our Heavenly Father.
HALLOWED BE THY NAME. When we refer to the name of the Lord, we also mean His character and nature. THY NAME is not limited to one specific name for our indescribable God, but to the PERSON who reveals Himself to us through the Bible. We can only HALLOW His name once we know Him; and we can only know Him if He has shown Himself to us. The better we get to know Him, the greater and more wonderful He becomes, and the more we want to come before Him to worship His almightiness and majesty. To really know God we need HIS WORD, because there, in the Bible, God Himself is speaking, telling us who He is. There we get to know the WORD THAT BECAME FLESH, who said, – If you knew me, you would know my Father also – (John 8: 19). This is how we get to know God the Father – through a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. Our knowledge of Him will then become visible in our worship, in our service to Him, as well as in our marriage and in our family life.The Lord’s Prayer tells us that beside our personal praise and thanks we should also HALLOW God’s Name. In other words, we should live in such a way that others will praise His Name because of us. Reading again Leviticus 22: 31-33 we can clearly see why God said, – Do not profane my Holy Name. I must be acknowledged as HOLY… God proved His faithfulness when He saved His people from slavery, so, The God who saves, wants to be God of our daily lives; HALLOWING GOD’S NAME, GLORIFIES HIM.
We are God’s children – HIS FAMILY. Through our actions one of two things can happen: either His Name is honoured, or His Name is disgraced. HALLOWED BE THY NAME also means HALLOW ME. Because through a life set aside for God and separated from sin, God’s Name is – in fact – honoured. Those, who hallow His Name, – will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12: 3). We have fellowship with God through the work of Jesus Christ for us and in us: – Who came as a witness to testify concerning the LIGHT, so that through Him all men might believe (John 1:7).
God’s Name is profaned when our daily lives discredit the Gospel through which we are supposed to be Christ-like. Swearing and taking the Name of God in vain are not the only actions that profane His Name. There are certain other ways in which God is mocked, but children of the Father discredit His Name especially when their lives are not worthy of children of God.
That is why every child of God should constantly ask oneself: – Are there moments in my life when God’s Name is not honoured as it should be? Am I a worthy ambassador for the GOOD NAME OF MY GOD? Or think about it positively: – How can I contribute to the hallowing of God’s Name in the circumstances of my life? AMEN.
LET US PRAY:
ALMIGHTY AND HOLY GOD, we come to You as Your people to worship You, to praise Your Holy Name, and thank You for all Your goodness and greatness, welcoming us into Your presence. We come in all our weakness and with all our failings, rejoicing that in Christ we have been saved and made new; that through Him, You have set Your mark upon us, and called us to be Your holy people. Help us truly to be Your people, reflecting Your love, showing Your compassion, and responding to Your guidance. Renew and restore us through the love of Christ and the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit. Touch our hearts through this time we’ve spent together with You and strengthen our faith, so that in the week ahead we may live and work to the glory of Your name. OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME. We thank You that we can call you OUR FATHER; that our relationship with You is not one of fear or duty, but one of love, grateful response and freedom. For the blessings we have received, the love that surrounds us, and the hope that sustains us day by day, we bring our grateful praise. Father God, You came to our world through Christ to help, to heal, and to save. Within this Coronavirus Pandemic Your whole world is in such need to be helped, healed, and saved. Come, help and bless all those who work to do the best they can to contain the Virus, to administer vaccines, and save lives. We pray for the sick and suffering, the poor and the hungry, the oppressed and exploited, the lonely and unloved, the aged and infirm, the frightened and anxious, the sorrowful and the bereaved, the helpless and the hopeless. Reach out to them in Your loving care. There is so much need of You around us, in our neighbourhood, our town, our country, our world – so many people crying out for help. Hear their prayers. Be with Your Christian Church Universal in all its denominations, with our Church of Scotland in all its presbyteries and congregations, including ours here in Portree, and all our loved ones, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
CLOSING HYMN (CH-368): – NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD, with heart and hands and voices, who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices, – who, from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, with ever-joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us, and keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed, and free us from all ills in this world and the next.
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given, The Son and Him who reigns with Them in highest heaven, – The One, Eternal God, whom earth, and heaven adore; for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore. Amen.
MAY THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU ALL. (2 Corinthians 13: 14)